Friday, May 10, 2013

Ricks Review: Native Water Craft Manta Ray 11 Kayak

Patagonia Lake, Arizona at sun set.
Fishing in the deserts of Southern Arizona is extremely limited. There just aren't that many lakes or rivers large enough to hold fish. Within a two hour drive there is one small river that is mostly surrounded by private land and Indian reservations, and the few lakes we have are smaller canyon reservoirs. This means they are narrow, long, deep, and surrounded by cliffs. Anywhere there is relatively flat space the vegetation is so thick that shore fishing becomes nearly impossible. These issues make a boat of some kind almost a necessity for fishing. There are five such lakes within 100 miles (close enough for a day trip) of my house. One is a tiny over-fished trout lake up in the Catalina mountains that doesn't allow boats at all, three have a 5 mph no wake speed limit or are limited to trolling motors, and one is large enough for a large boat to make about a 1/4 mile circle on one end for water skiing. This is bad for a fisherman stuck on the shore, but the limited number of people with smaller boats means this is great for fish populations in all of these lakes. and for the few fishermen who have a boat small enough to get to them. I want in on this action, so I need a small boat.



Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11
I need something fairly easy for one person to man-handle in and out of a truck and carry from front yard to back and from truck to lake. I had been hearing about kayak fishing and how much fun people are having with it. They are also made of plastic, and typically made for one person which means they are comparatively lightweight and small. So I went into research mode and started learning everything I could about kayaks.  I started by figuring out how much I could spend on the boat and everything I would need to outfit it for fishing, and then found out that I didn't have enough money to even think about the high end well known brands like Hobbie. I also found out that, here in Tucson, there is very limited market for kayaks and the availability of boats (of course) matches the demand. What I finally Settled on is a Native Watercraft Manta Ray-11 which is available through Sportsman's Warehouse.

As it came from the store
What really turned me on about the Manta Ray was looking at the picture you see all of the "extra" stuff on it. I got all excited with the thought of not having to outfit this thing at all. It comes with three rod holders, an anchor kit, a comfy looking seat, and a wheel attached to the back end of it for rolling it around with! Well, pictures can be deceiving. I ordered the kayak in because they didn't have it in the Tucson store, and when it came in I was surprised to find that the rod holders and anchor kit are extra. I should have read the specs in the ad better. Still it is a good kayak with a lot of potential for those little extra personal touches that make fishing that much more enjoyable. I went back up to Sportsman's warehouse and picked up a rod holder, some marine sealant, and a HUMMINBIRD 408830-1 PIRANHAMAX (Google Affiliate Ad) fish finder. Then I went online to see what was available for batteries and installation hardware, and was completely overwhelmed with the amount of information and products available as modifications for fishing kayaks! But I did find a company out in California that seemed to have an incredible amount of knowledge available on their website along with some products that no one else had. Kayak Fishing Supplies Has everything needed to buy and outfit a kayak for any type of fishing you can think of, but their battery box, and fasteners are what brought me to them. I spent the better part of the next week anticipating the arrival of my new battery and the hardware I bought so I could get my boat set up and ready for fishing, but I entered the wrong city into the shipping address and the delivery was delayed for the weekend. The following Saturday found me drilling, riveting and running the power wire and transducer cable for my fish finder, and bolting in The rod holder I bought. a quick test of the system shows that everything is working and ready for a water test, but I was out of time. As things are right now I still have not had this out on the water with all of the stuff attached to it, but I did take it out for a little bit that first weekend just to see how it works.

On the water this kayak is fairly easy to paddle and control. As a beginner I was a little worried about that, but it tracks straight and is stable enough in the water to keep this clumsy fisherman dry. Even the wakes of motor boats didn't make me feel like this boat was going to tip over. It didn't take long to get a feel for it and start wandering around the lake and enjoying the scenery. The Adjustable foot rests and premium cushioned seat make it comfortable for just about any sized person, and the paddle clip on the side is an awesome feature to clear up your hands and lap for casting, or rigging up baits. There is a nice big dry storage area in the front that has a big rubber seal on it for all that stuff that needs to stay dry. In the back there is a depressed area with a bungee cord for a tackle box or a small cooler. The wheel that attaches to the rear of the boat is awesome feature for maneuvering this thing around on land, but the boat tends to tip if you don't remove the gear first. Now that I have it all rigged up I can't wait to get this thing out for some fishing, and a real test of its abilities on the water. I will let you know how it works as soon as I find time enough to get it wet again. and hopefully I will get some fish slime all over it.    


DISCLAIMER:
This gear review is my honest opinion of the equipment represented above. I paid retail prices for all of the items mentioned, and I am not receiving any compensation for this write up.  







8 comments:

  1. At my age, Kayaks and all the fun you could have in them, are not really in sync. However, does look like a good ride for the purpose you have in mind. Will look forward to more of your Kayak posts with, hopefully, some fish too go along with them. Happy hook ups!

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    1. Thanks Mel. I am looking forward to catching lots of fish in this kayak. I think it will serve its purpose well.

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  2. Nice boat. Always wear a full life vest/Jacket and always go duck hunting too...

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    1. Thanks Reverend. I did buy a life jacket that I will be wearing when I am on the water. That is excellent advise. As far as duck hunting...maybe one of these days...

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